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Gold vs. Brass: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
Gold is a naturally occurring, valuable, yellow metallic element, whereas brass is a yellow alloy of copper and zinc, not valued as highly as gold and used widely in various applications.

Key Differences

Gold and brass, though sharing a somewhat similar color palette, originate from fundamentally different sources and possess distinct properties and uses. Gold, an elemental metal known for its rarity and value, has been utilized throughout history for currency, jewelry, and various other applications, signifying wealth and prosperity. In contrast, brass, an alloy derived from combining copper and zinc, is valued for its utility in applications like musical instruments, decorations, and various hardware due to its machinability and anti-corrosion properties.
The inherent properties of gold and brass distinguish them significantly, particularly in terms of durability, malleability, and conductivity. Gold, being one of the least reactive chemical elements, does not tarnish and is also malleable and ductile, often utilized in electronics due to its excellent electrical conductivity. Brass, while not matching the conductivity or malleability of gold, brings its own merits, such as resistance to corrosion (especially from saltwater), and its ability to be molded into various shapes and forms, making it quite versatile in manufacturing.
In an economical context, gold and brass exhibit stark disparities, especially in terms of value, demand, and applications. Gold is globally recognized as a store of value, frequently used as a safe-haven asset in times of economic uncertainty, and plays a pivotal role in various countries’ monetary reserves. Conversely, brass, while not hoarded as a wealth store, is economically significant due to its wide-ranging applications in industries like automotive, electrical, and marine, attributed to its favorable mechanical properties.
Exploring the historical and cultural contexts of gold and brass, we observe how both have been embedded in human civilization, albeit in different capacities. Gold, due to its rarity and aesthetic appeal, has been intrinsically linked with power, divinity, and wealth throughout various cultures and epochs. Brass, due to its acoustic properties, has been historically significant in creating musical instruments, while also being utilized for adornments, artifacts, and tools, reflecting its practicality and cultural utility.
In the realm of aesthetic and design, gold and brass each carve out their own niche, influencing styles and expressions in varied domains. Gold, with its splendid luster and symbolic richness, has been a favorite among jewelers and artisans, crafting pieces that often signify opulence and elegance. Brass, with its warm golden hue, finds its way into various design elements, from vintage to modern, offering a cost-effective alternative to gold and introducing a classical, robust aesthetic into the objects and spaces it adorns.

Comparison Chart


Pure metallic element
Alloy of copper and zinc


Jewelry, currency, electronics
Instruments, fittings, decorations

Physical Properties

Malleable, ductile, excellent conductor
Corrosion-resistant, machinable

Economic Value

High, often used as a reserve
Lower, valued for utility

Historical Significance

Associated with wealth and power
Utilized for practicality and acoustics

Gold and Brass Definitions


Gold is a precious, chemically inert metallic element.
Gold has been coveted for its rarity and utilized in various luxury items.


Brass exhibits a warm golden hue, making it popular for decorative purposes.
Brass handles and knobs are often used to add a vintage touch to furniture pieces.


Gold is malleable, allowing it to be formed into thin sheets.
Gold leaf, derived from flattened gold, is used to gild surfaces, offering them a rich appearance.


Brass is a yellowish alloy combining copper and zinc.
Brass has been used for centuries in making instruments due to its unique acoustic properties.


Gold does not corrode or tarnish, maintaining its luster over time.
The ability of gold to resist tarnishing makes it a preferred material for timeless jewelry pieces.


It's known for its resistance to corrosion, especially from saltwater.
Brass fittings are common in marine applications because of their durability against saltwater.


It symbolizes wealth and prosperity in numerous cultures.
Kings and pharaohs were often adorned with gold to signify their status and wealth.


Brass has excellent acoustic properties, making it a choice material for musical instruments.
Trumpets and trombones made of brass produce rich and resonant tones.


Gold is utilized in electronics due to its excellent conductivity.
Gold is often found in electronic devices as it facilitates efficient electrical transmission.


It is a malleable alloy, allowing it to be formed into various shapes and items.
The malleability of brass is exploited to create intricate designs in jewelry and artifacts.


Symbol Au A soft, yellow, corrosion-resistant element, the most malleable and ductile metal, occurring in veins and alluvial deposits and recovered by mining, panning, or sluicing. A good thermal and electrical conductor, gold is generally alloyed to increase its strength, and it is used as a common monetary standard, in jewelry, for decoration, and as a plated coating on a wide variety of electrical and mechanical components. Atomic number 79; atomic weight 196.967; melting point 1,064.2°C; boiling point 2,856.0°C; specific gravity 19.3; valence 1, 3. See Periodic Table.


A yellowish alloy of copper and zinc, sometimes including small amounts of other metals, but usually 67 percent copper and 33 percent zinc.


A gold standard.


Ornaments, objects, or utensils made of this alloy.


Does gold tarnish over time?

No, gold does not tarnish or corrode, which is why it retains its luster over time.

What metals constitute brass?

Brass is primarily an alloy of copper and zinc.

What is the primary composition of gold?

Gold is a pure metallic element with the atomic symbol 'Au'.

Is gold a good conductor of electricity?

Yes, gold is an excellent conductor, making it valuable in electronics.

What are the main uses of brass?

Brass is used in musical instruments, decorations, plumbing fittings, and various hardware.

Why is gold considered precious?

Gold is rare, chemically inert, and has been culturally valued for millennia, making it precious.

Do both gold and brass have historical and cultural significance?

Yes, both have been used for various purposes across cultures, with gold symbolizing wealth and divinity, and brass being used for practical and artistic applications.

How does the weight of gold differ from brass?

Gold is denser than brass, making it heavier for a given volume.

Is brass as valuable as gold?

No, brass is not as valuable as gold, being more abundant and less in demand compared to gold.

In what industries is gold predominantly used?

Gold is primarily used in jewelry, finance (bullion reserves), electronics, and dentistry.

Can brass be magnetized?

No, brass is not magnetic, making it useful in applications where magnetism could interfere.

Are there different types of brass?

Yes, based on the copper-to-zinc ratio, there are several types of brass, like red brass and yellow brass.

Why are many musical instruments made of brass?

Brass offers excellent acoustic properties and durability, ideal for wind instruments like trumpets and trombones.

Why is gold often alloyed with other metals in jewelry?

Gold is alloyed to increase its strength and to alter its color, as pure gold is very soft.

Does brass have antibacterial properties?

Yes, the copper content in brass imparts antibacterial properties, making it self-sanitizing.

What gives brass its distinct color?

The combination of copper (red-orange) and zinc (silver-white) gives brass its characteristic yellow-gold color.

How is the purity of gold measured?

Gold purity is measured in karats, with 24 karats representing pure gold.

How is the price of gold determined?

The price of gold is influenced by factors like supply, demand, geopolitical events, and currency values, often determined in global markets.

Are both gold and brass used in making jewelry?

Yes, while gold is more prevalent in fine jewelry, brass is often used in costume jewelry and adornments.

Is brass used in coinage?

Yes, brass has been used historically in making coins due to its durability and appearance.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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